Coronado’s Sarah Pinkston stepped into the pitchers’ circle with her team in a jam Wednesday.
She hobbled off the field four innings later with a bruised thigh and cleat marks in her knee, but also with a victory.
The Cougars blew most of an early 6-0 lead, but Pinkston saved the day with four strong innings of relief as Coronado edged visiting Foothill 8-6 in the second round of the Division I Sunrise Region playoffs.
Pinkston, who was cleated in a play at the plate in the fourth inning and nailed with a line drive in the sixth, was heavily iced after the game. She said her injuries were minor, and that they were a small price to pay for the win.
“I was hurting, but I knew I had to be there for my team,” said Pinkston, who also went 2-for-4 with an RBI. “This was huge. Ever since I’ve been here, everyone has told me we’ve got to beat Foothill.”
The Falcons (24-9), who have long been a nemesis to the Cougars (26-8), squandered early scoring opportunities and stranded five baserunners through the first two innings.
Coronado capitalized with an unearned run in the first and five runs on five hits in the second. Basia Query’s RBI squeeze bunt fueled the inning, and the Cougars’ hitting onslaught eventually chased Foothill starter Sadie Christian.
But Coronado coach Missy Krueger knew it wasn’t over.
“No lead is safe when you’re playing Foothill,” she said. “They’re scrappy. You’ve just got to keep putting pressure on them.”
Coronado starter Ashley Ward got into a jam in the third, as Kylie Becker drove in a run with a single up the middle, and Haleigh Olive followed with a three-run triple into the left-field corner to make it 6-4. That’s when Pinkston was asked to work her magic.
“She’s a gamer,” Krueger said. “She’s got that drive to win that you don’t see in too many pitchers. When we ask her to step up her game, she lays it all on the field.”
Pinkston did give up a run in the fifth on back-to-back doubles by Alexa Campbell and Sarah Maddox as the Falcons cut the deficit to 6-5, but she escaped a bases-loaded jam to get out of it.
Coronado got an insurance run in the fourth inning and another in the fifth.
Foothill once again answered, cutting the score to 8-6 in the seventh on an RBI double by Olive. Alexis Farias brought the tying run to the plate with one out, but Pinkston got her to line into a double play to end the game.
Tatum Spangler went 3-for-4 with a triple to lead the Cougars’ offense, and Query went 2-for-4 with two RBIs.
Olive went 3-for-4 with two doubles and four RBIs to lead Foothill, and teammate Kylie Becker added three hits.
Coronado faces Rancho (26-7) in the winners’ bracket final at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at Foothill. Foothill hosts Basic (15-18) in an elimination game at 12:30 p.m.
Rancho 4, Liberty 3 — At Rancho, Tiare Lee was 2-for-3 with a solo home run and scored the go-ahead run in the bottom of the sixth inning as the Rams nipped the Patriots.
Lee reached on a fielder’s choice, and then stole second and third base before scoring on a fielder’s choice to the shortstop by Kayla Coles for Rancho’s winning run.
Gianna Carosone had an RBI triple, and Yvette Sanchez added an RBI double for the Rams. Sam Pochop struck out 10 in 5 2/3 innings of relief to get the win.
Jasmine Gonzalez was 2-for-3, and teammates Breanna Alvarez and Marisa Olmos each supplied two hits to lead Liberty (19-9), which plays Silverado (13-16) in an elimination game at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday at Foothill.
Basic 3, Las Vegas 1 — At Las Vegas, Sanoe Helenihi’s two-out infield single to second base plated Izabelle Morales with the go-ahead run in the top of the seventh inning as the Wolves scored twice in the seventh to top the Wildcats in an elimination game.
Morales reached on an error with one out to start the seventh-inning rally and moved to second on Adriana Cruz’s infield single. A sacrifice bunt by Alyssa Ferguson advanced both runners and set the stage for Helenihi.
After Morales scored the go-ahead run, Cruz came home on a wild pitch to extend the lead to 3-1.
Morales tossed a six-hitter for Basic.
Kaitlyn Horstdaniel was 2-for-3 for Las Vegas (13-9). Skylar Gorrell spun a three-hitter for the Wildcats.
Silverado 3, Green Valley 1 — At Green Valley, Meleah Rivera tossed a five-hitter to lead the Skyhawks by the Gators in an elimination game.
Alessandra Ponce was 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI, and Megan Johnson went 1-for-3 with a double and two RBIs for Silverado.
Alexa Blazek was 2-for-3 with a double, and Tyre Hilton went 2-for-4 with a double for Green Valley (17-16).